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the moment when heaven and earth were violently divorced. New Zealand itself, or at least one of the isles, was a huge fish caught by Maui (of whom more hereafter). Just as Pund-jel, in Australia, cut out the gullies and vales with his knife, so the mountains and dells of New Zealand were produced by the knives of Maui's brothers when they crimped his big fish.[1] Quite apart from these childish ideas are the astonishing metaphysical hymns about the first stirrings of light in darkness, of "becoming" in "being," which remind us of Hegel and Heraclitus, or of the most purely speculative ideas in the Rig-Veda.[2] Scarcely less metaphysical are the myths of Mangaia, of which Mr. Gill[3] gives an elaborate account.

The Mangaian ideas of the world are complex, and of an early scientific sort. The universe is like the hollow of a vast cocoa-nut shell, divided into many imaginary circles, like those of mediæval speculation. There is a demon at the stem, as it were, of the cocoa-nut, and, where the edges of the imaginary shell nearly meet, dwells a woman-demon, whose name means "the very beginning." In this system we observe efforts at metaphysics and physical speculation. But it is very characteristic of rude thought that such extremely abstract conceptions as "the very beginning" are represented as possessing life and human form. The woman at the bottom of the shell

  1. Taylor, New Zealand, pp. 115–121; Bastian, Heilige Sage der Polynesier, pp. 36–50; Shortland, Traditions of the New Zealanders.
  2. See chapter on "Divine Myths of the Lower Races," and on "Indian Cosmogonic Myths."
  3. Myths and Songs from the South Pacific, pp. 1–22.